Friday, May 03, 2013

Butterflies From Atlantis: Love And Migration

Butterflies bask in the sun, wings open
left and right, warming themselves in the light.

Books lie open in front of us, pages
left and right, like butterflies letting us
study the pretty patterns on their wings.

But books aren’t like real butterflies from
the physical place we remember as
Atlantis. Books are like butterflies from
Atlantis, the magical place of myths.

If books are butterflies from Atlantis
then maybe the good books disappearing
isn’t what book-lovers should be fearing
and the books leaving might be like showbiz

a grand final Ars Gratia Artis
something like a song we should be hearing
a sad love song with lyrics endearing
a plea to us to learn why they did this.

If the good books flew home a better fear
is we won’t figure out where they went to
and their song will be a hollow poem

like modern lyrics here and gone next year
and we’ll never learn their detachment too
that all we have to do is follow them.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

A Postscript:

This is a post where I can say exactly what prompted me to write it. It’s not really important, I’m guessing, what inspired me, I mean. But since it is all fresh in my mind and this is just a blog, I don’t think it will hurt to explain the background to this post. And since this postscript is about two books that I like which have been “disappeared” (or maybe they flew home) it’s a nice conclusion (possibly) to this whole set of topics.

Things Libraries Throw Away

Can We Reboot The World?

Ha! Man Throws Away Library!

The general topic of libraries throwing away books is so sad to me (as it is to almost everyone except the vicious and dehumanized decision-makers who’ve created the modern library paradigm) that I simply try not to think about it. After all, nobody is going to be able to do anything about it. Everything in the modern world is thought of as a commodity, a production-line item. So the old production-line items always need to be cleared away for the new production-line items. So old books have to be cleared away to make room for new books. It’s all so simple. To the monsters in charge.

(It would be interesting and fun to say something like: If books always need to be cleared away to make room for new books, what about all the young people graduating from college every year, surely people are more important than books, so shouldn’t old library administrators and old library staff members be cleared away every year, too, to make room for the new batch of contemporary and desirable administrators and staff members? But that would be pointless, just mean-spirited snarking.)

Anyway, so I’ve learned more or less what kind of books to expect to find, these days, in libraries and I manage my expectations reasonably well.

But every now and then library book purges become so extensive that even recent books get thrown away and then, sometimes, I get taken by surprise. And, for a while, then, I’m sad thinking about more books gone, like friends who’ve passed away.

A couple of weeks ago this happened with two books on the same day from two different libraries. So it’s been on my mind.

First I went to a library south of here to check out a book about painting I re-read every now and then. It’s not a great book, but for some reason I find it interesting and thought-provoking and even a little inspiring. I’d checked out the book from that particular library so often that I knew exactly where on which shelf I’d find the book.

This book. “Acrylic Workbook: A Complete Course In Ten Lessons,” by Jenny Rodwell. The text is by Rodwell, but the illustrations and examples are by Ian Sidaway. Sidaway is one of my favorite contemporary artists and I’ve posted about him a few times. Exchanging e-mails with him about one of his watercolor paintings was one of the most pleasant experiences I’ve had here at the blog.

People Become Things: Carreg Samson

Thinking About Watercolors, Drawings And Photos

A Typewriter Preserved From Roman Times

So I enjoy flipping through this book, now and then, and being amazed at the simple yet beautiful illustrations.

And the book always makes me smile, too, because this is one of the many art instruction books where the author advises against using black in paint mixtures, but then does recommend using Payne’s Gray, apparently without realizing that Payne’s Gray is in fact a mixture of blue and black and that black mixed with almost any one modern color produces a shade almost always as beautiful for that hue as is Payne’s Gray.

So I went to a library south of here to check out this book but it wasn’t on the shelf, and when I checked the card catalog to see when it would be back, it wasn’t even listed at that branch any more. Gone, gone, gone. Disappeared.

I don’t know why this particular bit of library violence against books makes me so sad. Like I said, it wasn’t really that great of a book. But the illustrations were beautiful. And it was fun to flip through. It just seems like such an inoffensive book that I’d have thought there would be no reason to throw it away. But I would have been wrong.

Right after that happened, I went to a library west of here to check out a pop introduction to Vermeer, because I’d been reading a bit about the Dutch realist and his times.

Man Reading A Book At A Window

Madonnas In The Meadows

This book. “DK Art Book: Vermeer” published by Dorling Kindersley. They’re one of my favorite publishers. Their books are almost always well made, thoughtful, interesting and fun. They’re usually not detailed and deep books, but they’re almost always well-crafted books that contain enough good material that they lead you to some interesting fact or story that you can follow up on in more detailed books.

And just like with the acrylic painting book, I had checked out this little Vermeer book so often from the library west of here that I knew exactly where on which shelf I’d find the book. But the book wasn’t on shelf, where it was supposed to be, and when I looked it up in the catalog I saw, in fact, that it wasn’t in the catalog any more for that branch. And it was a comparatively new book, all modern and colorful. Yet, still, it got disappeared. Gone, gone, gone. Tossed into the trash, or sold for a couple of quarters.

It’s so sad. And strange. I never would have thought it. So many people in so many positions of power are so dedicated to their bizarre passions of turning this world around us all into a nightmare.

But ultimately a wonderful part of growing up and being an adult is learning—knowing!—that there is never any reason to be afraid of nightmares. They go away as soon as you open your eyes. All you have to do is wake up.

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